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Antiquarian: Aus dem Reiche der Drogen, 1926

7 May

This book caught my attention a few weeks ago: it was on display in the window of an antiquarian bookshop in Dresden and I swore to myself, to return and I’d buy it. So I did.

The book is from 1926, published by Schwarzeck-Verlag Dresden. It contains information and references to herbals from the 15th century, which – thanks to the invention of letterpress printing – were for the first time available to a larger audience, especially since they were written not in Latin but in German language, so that common people could understand and use them. These herbals were richly illustrated with surprisingly accurate woodcuts depicting the plants. Both pharmacology and botany developed quickly during this time. Soon followed similar herbals in Belgium, Italy and England.

The first chapter gives an introduction to these early herbals, their authors and illustrators. Mentioned are among others: Conrad von Megenberg, Otto Brunfels (botanist and illustrator), Leonhart Fuchs, Hieronymus Bock, Petrus Andreas Mathiolus, Konrad Gesner, Tabernaemontanus. Publishing a book was not an easy endeavor at a time, when there were no laws yet on coyprights. Unauthorized reprints occurred within the same year as the original and neither the original publisher nor author could do anything about it. (Sounds familiar in times of the internet, doesn’t it?) In addition, there was fierce competition among publishers and prices were dumped, once a larger number of a similar book was available… The authors describe all of this quite vividly and so this short discourse, on the first herbals ever printed, is a pleasant read, spiced with examples and quotes from these very first herbals. Simultaneously we learn how the first volumes on botany and pharmacognosy came into being.

I cannot go into detail on each chapter. Instead I list the translated index for reference:

  1. The Herbals of the Middle Ages
  2. The Doctrine of Signatures
  3. The art of distillation
  4. The spice wars
  5. The cultivation of drugs in Germany
  6. The China-Bark
  7. The Liquorice
  8. The tropein-containing Nightshades
  9. The Strophanthus
  10. The noxious and innoxious types of Strychnos
  11. The Elder
  12. The Indian Hemp (Cannabis indica)
  13. The Yohimbe bark
  14. The Guajacum tree
  15. The Sarsaparilla root
  16. The Shepherd’s Purse
  17. The Rhubarb
  18. The Aconite
  19. The Opium
  20. The Cantharides

There are altogether 272 pages. Whenever I skim through, I find something new and interesting, which I have not read elsewhere. This book contains plenty of interdisciplinary references and I am glad to have bought it.

 

Saw it, listened to it, bought it

22 Jan

In the mail today:

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It’s about time I share some of my favorite records. Not that I’d have that many – actually it’s quite a small collection consisting of but a few dozens of vinyls and CDs I have managed to keep after moving and relocating a couple of times. Also, opposed to adolescent dreams I did not turn exactly into an audiophile, but anyway… this ought to be about having fun and that’s also what I’ll concentrate on in this blog series.

So, I am starting with my recent acquisition, which is a milk white 10” vinyl single by Hole. The background story is that around new years we were watching some music documentaries on tv whilst I was lying in bed with a stupid stomach flue, which brought amongst others Hole to my attention. Actually I have not been overtly interested in them before as that whole grunge thing and related had more or less passed me by. However, I remember to have been quite fond of Courtney Love’s acting in The People vs. Larry Flynt and began looking for Hole music videos and interviews on youtube. After listening to some stuff from the 90ies I finally checked out the latest (and last?) album Nobody’s Daughter, which I’ll have to give another listen. Then visited the merch site and came across the glass slipper poster… continued to look for records on ebay and was quite happy to find this was indeed the art on the single release. Honestly, why else buy a single if not for some attractive cover art? Well, it also got a heartfelt cover version of Codine on the B-side, which makes a nice addition, however I could live without that. I bought this record chiefly for the visual aspect. The white vinyl adds to this and I must say it feels nice to hold this record in the hands, there is not much fuss around it apart from the cover. Therefore it has one dirty rock song on it. (Love the contrast.) Secondly I imagined this song may sound nice on vinyl and infact I like a lot how it sounds on our old vinyl player. Besides, at first we accidentally spinned it at 33 rpm… doom baby (don’t go slower). My mum then asked me if it was a man singing (however the record was already spinning at 45 rpm then). Well, I think next time she’ll recognize the voice! A final remark, I appreciate the fact there is still someone like Love in the alternative ‘mainstream’ department continuing to do music like this. This is rock the way it’s supposed to be. Good choice to release this song as a lead single. Btw. if you have not seen it yet, here is a nicely done video by a fan.

Bought from: hhv.de (fast shipping, safe packing, good customer service)